Old Fashioned Parenting

What do you think of when you hear the term ‘Old Fashioned Parenting’? It seems to have both negative and positive connotations to it. The negative would be that it is something that is outdated, a has been, something that it is now unachievable. The positive would be that is brings about some kind of feelings of familiarity, something that reminds us of the happy times in our childhood. Well, as with all things, each decade has its fads or trends. So, too with parenting. The way children were dressed, disciplined, schooled, addressed their parents, what toys they played with, what roles or jobs the parents had, have all changed over the decades.

There have been many different types of parenting styles too over the years. These vary from the authoritative parent right through to the permissive parent. These are still evident in today’s modern society. The era would define the trend of parenting and this would vary from the submissive and docile housewife who always looked her best, the so called Stepford wife, through to the hippy parents, the parents that went through woman’s lib and then into modern parenting. It doesn’t seem to matter what era we were raised in we kind of all seemed to turn out OK… didn’t we?

I do feel that moms of the past generations might not have all been working moms (and by that I mean earning a salary from an actual occupation) but rather moms that stayed at home with their children. Their job was to raise their children. They were the real homemakers. They seemed to have a way of serving their children instead of pleasing them. I believe there is a difference. Serving comes from a different heart or attitude than just giving or financial provision.

Dads seemed to have been the breadwinners throughout all the generations. Always working hard and providing financially for his family. Working a full day in the past usually meant a 8 to 4.30 job and they always seemed to have time for a chore or two in the late afternoons. Children seemed to have time to spend with their dads even helping with the chores. Most importantly, they got to see and interact with their dad’s every day. Today’s dad often has the added stresses of very long working hours and travelling away from home and family.

The cost of raising a family in today’s economic circumstances has also changed, often forcing both parents to work just to sustain a living for their family. With the costs of basic needs of a family such as feeding, clothing, schooling, extra murals, etc, all adding up to huge amounts every month, who has much money left to spend on the fun stuff like a family trip to the zoo, the movies or an adventure park? Not to mention those memorable holidays on the to do list. All this can add to the stresses that parents face today.

Can we thus say that our parenting in today’s society is very different to that of the old days? Yes. Each emerging generation is vastly different from the one before. This is partly due to the parenting trend or fashion of that specific era. Some have brought about self disciplined strong leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs and wonderful artists who are free to express themselves. The children of our generation seem to need continuous instant gratification, have too many toys, and are faced with so many technological advances the poor parents can’t even keep up with them all. As a teacher I see more and more children who need remedial teaching to help them cope, occupational therapy, glasses from having formal schooling at too much of a young age. The children have ulcers, suffer from anxiety attacks and are struggling with the pressures of today’s life. Is this due to the parenting trend of this era? I don’t think parents are entirely to blame for these problems our children face and there may be many other contributing factors for these.

So can the feel good old fashioned parenting work in today’s modern lifestyle? Yes. We just need to find ways of connecting with our children and interacting with them. Make it age appropriate. A simple suggestion would be to set a specific time to be available for your children each week. Choose an activity to do together like cooking a meal. Let them help you in whichever way they are able to do, whether it be looking for or collecting all the ingredients for the meal, actually preparing the meal or just chatting together about the day while making the meal. With our working hours being a bit more flexible these days and not on strict office hours, we need to be weary on when to switch off all the gadgets that bleep, tweet or buzz around us, making us available to others and not our children.

I do believe that old fashioned parenting is something familiar we can relate to and often refer to in a positive way, for example, “Well, back in our day… ” or “When we were young we were never allowed to… “; “My mom or dad always used to… ” We often refer to these times with fond memories. I know I never get bored listening to my parent’s stories about their childhood. I can see my own children listen with fascinated faces (even to my own childhood stories!).

I personally believe that when one refers to the term ‘old fashioned parenting’ we are referring to the VALUES we were taught in our own childhood and not to the specific parenting trend of an era. And yes, these can be taught, applied and passed down in today’s lifestyle. The balance between old fashioned parenting and modern day parenting is what should be strived for. Taking the good parenting styles that worked in your own childhood (and that of your spouse) and try to get a happy medium. It takes effort, time, dedication and participation from both parents. It is an investment and one well worth making.